In today’s fast-evolving tech landscape, the juxtaposition of artificial intelligence and human-centric product experiences might seem paradoxical. 

Yet increasingly it is through the capabilities of AI that we’re achieving the most humanistic interactions within our product journeys.

The advent of AI has immensely reshaped product development. Neural Language Models like GPT have revolutionised how we interact with data. With their introduction, we can now conceive database schemas, plot user flows, and draft user stories within a matter of seconds.

Moreover, tools like GitHub CoPilot have accelerated the development process. Rather than having developers laboriously trudge through code, they now have an AI-powered assistant to expedite the task. But what’s truly significant about these advancements isn’t just speed – it’s the new dimensions they introduce to human endeavour in the product development cycle.

The human-centric shift

One might assume that with the increasing reliance on AI, human efforts would diminish. Quite the contrary, we now get to weigh our human contribution more heavily. Instead of focusing on repetitive tasks or menial components of product design, there’s a strategic shift. We’re spending more time deliberating on the emotional impact of our products. As Josh Miller, CEO at Arc, eloquently expresses in this video, there’s a deep underlying philosophy to product creation. It’s about understanding the customer, their problems, their emotional state when confronted with challenges, and the feeling of satisfaction when these challenges are addressed effectively.

In the world of hiring, job seekers and employers ride a roller coaster of anticipation, disappointment, hope, and fulfilment. By leveraging AI in our processes, we’re able to devote more time to understanding these emotions and crafting our platform to cater to them, forging human product experiences.

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The new structure: Decentralised and holistic

With AI’s instrumental role in our toolkit, traditional silos in the realm of product development are fast eroding. Previously, engineers and developers stayed largely confined within their specific disciplines. Designers would stick to design, front-end developers to interface intricacies, and back-end developers to the core functionalities. The interplay between these silos was typically sequential, occasionally leading to fragmented understanding and compartmentalised thinking.

AI, however, is acting as a great democratiser. When tasks that once consumed vast amounts of specialised time – like certain design iterations or repetitive coding – are expedited by AI tools, these specialists find themselves with more time to collaborate on cross-discipline projects. Instead of working in isolation, teams now have the latitude and the incentive to come together, share ideas, merge perspectives, and learn from one another.

This dynamic shift has palpable benefits. Engineers, irrespective of their initial specialisation, are morphing into rounded product thinkers. A front-end developer, for instance, isn’t just pondering over the user interface but is also contemplating how design choices resonate with users or how backend logic might influence user experience. 

Likewise, designers are engaging more deeply with the technological underpinnings, understanding the possibilities and constraints, and innovating accordingly. Vercel’s Lee Robinson identifies the divide between frontend and backend engineers as becoming ‘increasingly less useful’ in this interesting thought piece on the prevalence of ‘Product and Platform Engineers’.

But this goes beyond just interdisciplinary collaboration. With a broader array of perspectives actively engaged in every phase of product development, the products themselves stand to gain immensely. A diverse melting pot of ideas often leads to more innovative, inclusive, and user-centric products. We’re not just streamlining processes; we’re crafting solutions that cater to a wider audience, resonating with a variety of needs and preferences. 

In essence, AI isn’t just a tool to hasten tasks but a bridge fostering richer, deeper, and more inclusive dialogues between disciplines. By facilitating these cross-disciplinary exchanges, we’re ensuring our products aren’t just technologically advanced, but also deeply human-centric and inclusive.

In conclusion: The confluence of technology and humanity

The onset of AI in product development is not about mechanising processes or diluting human efforts. It’s a tool, and a powerful one at that, which enables us to zoom in on the human aspects that truly matter. By harnessing AI’s capabilities, we’re placing humans – both the creators and the end-users – at the epicentre of product experiences. We’re realising that the most advanced technology, when used judiciously, can lead us to the most human of experiences.

Alex Hanson-Smith is co-founder and CTPO at TalentTech 50 firm Inploi